When Hurricane Maria slammed into the U.S. Virgin Islands in September 2017, it took roughly six weeks for low-income islanders to begin receiving emergency nutrition assistance. But when that same hurricane devastated Puerto Rico, similar emergency assistance did not begin to flow until six months after the storm’s landfall. Why the difference? Puerto Rico’s Nutrition Assistance Program (NAP) is that island’s version of SNAP, which exists in all 50 states plus some of the U.S. territories. But NAP is different — unlike SNAP, it does not have the flexibility to respond to natural disasters such as hurricanes — or, more recently, earthquakes.
Tense debates have surfaced in the upper Midwest over whether to accept refugees at the local level. Local governments were given the authority to choose in an order signed by President Donald Trump. In response to the order, Gov. Tony Evers issued a letter affirming Wisconsin’s support of refugees. But at the county level, some of the debate has been more nuanced, including whether there should be caps on numbers of refugees.
Kansas could become the 37th state in the U.S. to opt for Medicaid expansion, good news for as many as 150,000 residents of the Jayhawk State who would have improved access to medical coverage – and the peace of mind and economic security that comes with it. More states could be on the horizon: Advocates in Oklahoma already have gathered – and had certified – enough signatures to qualify a ballot measure on Medicaid expansion for the November 2020 election; advocates in Missouri are attempting a similar ballot measure — they have until May to gather and submit signatures.
We know there are benefits to raising the minimum wage. These include reducing income inequality, making it easier for workers to afford life’s necessities, including rent and food, and stimulating the economy because it follows that when people earn more, they have more to spend. Now we can add one benefit to the list: minimum wage increases might contribute to a lower suicide rate. A new study released this week demonstrates a correlation between an increase in the minimum wage and declining suicide rates among adults who are between 18 and 64 years old.
Twenty Democratic-led states plus the District of Colombia have asked the Supreme Court for expedited review of a lower court decision that puts the future of the Affordable Care Act at risk. What exactly is at stake? A whole lot if opponents of the ACA prevail in their effort to overturn the law: expansion of Medicaid in three dozen states, insurance subsidies for millions of people with coverage through ACA marketplaces, the ability of young adults to stay on their parents’ insurance policies until they turn 26, and consumer protections for people with preexisting medical conditions.
How to greet 2020? We look to suffragist Alice Paul and Rep. John Lewis for inspiration.
As we prepare to ring in the new year, there is some good news to report. Across the country, a record number of states, cities and counties are raising the minimum wage, evidence that our national conversation and debate over income inequality is having tangible results. The welcome news was delivered in a new report published Monday by the National Employment Law Project (NELP), a CHN member. NELP reported that in January alone, 21 states and 26 cities and counties will raise the minimum wage. And there’s more good news to come: later in 2020, four more states and 23 additional localities also will raise their minimum wages.
CHN recently welcomed four new members to its Board of Directors as well as one new Board officer. The new members will begin their service on Jan. 1, 2020. They represent disability advocates, the anti-poverty community, labor rights, and immigration and economic justice advocacy. All CHN Board members work for organizations that are CHN members.
CHN just released another edition of the Human Needs Report. Read on for the latest on Congress’s final FY20 spending bills, a year-end tax package, a judge’s ruling on the ACA, efforts to preserve SNAP benefits and lower prescription drug costs, and more. You can view a PDF up the report here.
Saturday, Dec. 21 is the first day of winter and the longest night of the year. It is also the day that many affordable housing advocates have chosen to remember the many homeless people who die each year. Sponsored by the National Coalition for the Homeless, the National Consumer Advisory Board and the National Health Care for the Homeless Council, the National Homeless Persons’ Memorial Day has been commemorated for nearly three decades now.
The appropriations bills passed by the House of Representatives will provide important help to many Americans in areas such as child care funding, affordable housing, Medicaid, and more. But Congress missed some opportunities to make our tax code serve those who need help the most, and it failed to block the Trump Administration’s abusive anti-immigrant and anti-discrimination policies. The need to help more people escape poverty and to stop inhumane attacks on immigrants remains urgent, and the members of the Coalition on Human Needs will redouble their efforts towards just and commonsense policies in the new year.
Moments before midnight Monday, Congressional leaders reached an agreement on an end-of-year tax package that leaves out millions of poor people. In particular, despite a tenacious push by Speaker Pelosi and allies and a welcome demonstration of at least some bipartisan support, some children in poor families remain too poor to get help from the tax code. Advocates had hoped that Congress would expand the Child Tax Credit to cover families who are either too poor to qualify, or qualify for just a fraction of what other families receive. Also needing help were low-income workers without dependents, the only group whose tax payments can push them deeper into poverty.